Categories
Food & Drink

8 Foods To Choose For Excellent Midlife Health

You are no doubt aware that there is a link, between fatty foods and fitness. Whilst it is nice to have treats in moderation, and sometimes this can feel essential to keep your sanity; it becomes essential to keep an eye on the amount of saturated fats and sugar we eat if we are going to maintain our midlife health.

naughty dessert treats

It is best to especially watch foods such as pies, biscuits, cakes and savoury snacks as they contain a surprisingly high amount of fat which can sneak up on the tummy making it harder to stay in shape and feel fit and healthy.

Here are 8 foods however, that have very impressive health and fitness benefits. You could incorporate some of the ones you fancy into your weekly shopping list:

Fresh salmon fillet for omega-3
Fresh salmon fillet with parsley and lemon slices – yum

1 Fish

Fish, particularly salmon, is packed with protein and omega 3 fats, which are excellent for your heart. A light meal containing fish would be great to enjoy after you come in from enjoying your exercises, as it is great to eat to refuel and recover. Salmon also has a good balance of carbohydrates.

It helps your ticker by lowering cholesterol as well as strengthening your heart muscles. The omega 3 can help prevent blood clots. It is also good for your skin, hair and eyes. Tuna and sardines can also help with your fitness.

spinach2 Green Veggies

Green Veg, particularly broccoli and spinach, are excellent for fitness (who can forget Popeye pumping his muscles after he’d ate his spinach?).

Spinach contains loads of vitamin K which is great for your bones as well as twice the concentration of iron as even other great greens.

Broccoli is not called a ‘Superfood’ for nothing either, it is good for your heart and joints and the magnesium can help your memory.

bottles of olive oil3 Olive Oil

Olive Oil (no, we’re not back to Popeye!) is also very good when it comes to your fitness. It has a link to cancer prevention and can reduce cholesterol as well as strengthening your blood vessels and reducing your blood pressure.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferable 100%) is the best type to go for to keep you fighting fit, as the goodness hasn’t been diluted out of it.

healthy tomatoes4 Tomatoes

As well as being packed with vitamins, folate and potassium, tomatoes have the rare balance of being filling without being fattening.

They can help prevent lines and wrinkles, fight osteoporosis, due to their vitamin K and calcium content and can even help your eyesight due to their vitamin A content.

healthy nuts5 Nuts

As long as they are eaten in moderation, not coated in sugar, salt or fatty flavourings, or washed down with a gallon of beer or wine, nuts are actually very good for you!

Almonds are recommended due to trumping every other type of nut in the calcium stakes, and they also contain a lot of fibre.

Walnuts are also great as they can reduce inflammation of the arteries due to their omega 3 content.

healthy blueberries packed with vitamin c6 Blueberries

Blueberries really are a ‘Superfood’ and are the Ninjas of antioxidants – the fighters of certain disease.

They can help with your heart, enhance your memory, reduce blood sugar levels and can decrease depression symptoms.

If you find them a bit bland on their own, you could keep ‘em healthy by adding them to a fruit salad or a plain yoghurt.

healthy protein rich beans7 Beans

Beans are an excellent source of protein and can be a great substitute for fatty meats, particularly if you are trying to watch the waistline.

This is because they contain the minerals and fibre of meat but not the bad saturated fat. They are also filling and versatile, with a variety of different types available; not just the canned baked beans you may keep stocked up for the grandchildren!

Don’t forget these other types of beans you can get, including kidney beans and black beans. (If you can’t resist canned baked beans yourself, you could always opt for a low-salt/sugar option.)

Beans also go great in tortilla wraps as a fun, healthy sandwich alternative. They are a must in a chilli con carne and can liven up those soups and salads.

chocolate-28 Dark Chocolate

It doesn’t just have to be the more obvious sensible food that is good for you. Dark chocolate may feel like a naughty treat, but the good news is that an ounce of it contains loads of nutrients and antioxidants which can actually fight heart disease. It can also stimulate muscle growth and literally cheers you up due to lowering your stress levels!

The key, before you reach for the whole box or bar though, is moderation. Your sweet cravings can be satisfied with as little as one square daily and you should always go for a cocoa/cacao content of above 65% to reap the benefits.
Karen Hill

Categories
Health & Wealth

8 Foods That Can Help Sleeping

If you are having difficulty nodding off and fancy ditching the sleeping pills, the good news is there are plenty of natural foods that can help induce sleep.

Whilst there are some recommendations that it is best not to eat after 7pm, feeling hungry can keep you awake so sometimes a light snack doesn’t hurt.

From bananas to cheese, here is a list of 8 foods which can help your sleep quality, with a touch of the science behind how they can help. There are some which may surprise you:

Young woman lying on bed with banana and her boyfriend is busy with laptop

1 – Bananas

Despite being thought of as an ‘energy fruit’, bananas can actually have the opposite effect and help you to get your shut eye.

This is because the potassium they contain can relax your muscles in preparation.

Washing your banana down with warmed milk can be an even better solution, as they both contain a lot of carbohydrates which aid sleep.

two funny smiling eggs in a packet.

2 – Eggs

Whilst you may associate eggs as part of your brekkie routine, you could also consider a hard boiled one as a pre-bedtime snack. This is because they contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sedative.

Eggs are also packed with protein and the effect they have on your blood-sugar means you are more likely to have uninterrupted, quality sleep.

If you don’t think you will fancy eggs too near to bedtime, it could still be beneficial with getting to sleep to consider boiled eggs with a slice of wholemeal toast for your evening meal.

Fresh salmon fillet with parsley and lemon slices

3 – Fish

The vitamin B6 found in many fish aids with the production of melatonin in your body which works at night time as an indication to your mind and body that it is time to unwind and get some rest.

Two of the best sleep aiding types of fish are cod and salmon.

Roasted turkey on holiday table, candles and Christmas tree with ornaments

4 – Turkey
After a large Christmas dinner you may put your nodding off in front of the TV down to overindulging and too much wine.

While this is no doubt the case, and it would be lovely to blame the turkey (and people often do!), turkey has got some benefits.

This is because, similarly to eggs, it contains tryptophan, which if eaten in the right quantity can help the brain produce serotonin required for sleep.

Before you go for double-helpings at the Christmas or Sunday lunch table though, remember it is best to eat a lot of the turkey itself, preferably on an empty stomach, or perhaps on a wholemeal sandwich to gain any sort of benefit!

Wood spoons with whole wheat grains, wheat bran and wheat flour

5 – Cereals

As long as you don’t go for the ones that are packed full of refined sugar (always check the label, some cereals can unfortunately contain “nasty” surprises when you think you are being healthy!) and go for wholegrain ones, cereals can be the perfect snack to nibble on before your head hits the pillow.

The fibre in the whole grains will stabilise your blood sugar levels which slows down absorption of sugars, letting your body keep ahead while it’s processing them.

Just watch your portion size, so your tum doesn’t try too hard to digest it.

strawberries-26 – Strawberries

As well as many other health benefits such as improved heart health, anti-aging properties and a boost to your immune system, strawberries can also help when it comes to sleep, due to their vitamin C content.

(Whilst you might automatically think of oranges when you hear of vitamin C though, these wouldn’t be advised, as the acidity could cause other problems if eaten too close to bedtime; such as heartburn, which would be a separate keeping you awake issue!)

Being a fruit they are also versatile and could be eaten as part of a fruit salad for example, and are better on the waistline than a lot of other snacks.

brocolli-17 – Broccoli

Broccoli is an amazing food that has a number of healthy plus points.

When it comes to helping your sleep, you could consider eating it as an accompaniment to your early evening meal.

As well as the protein, iron and fibre content, the magnesium broccoli contains is linked to helping your shut eye.

Cheese

8 – Cheese

Before you pass on to the grandchildren the old wives tale that eating cheese before bed can give you nightmares, consider the type of cheese and its actual sleep benefits!

Whilst strong tasting cheese such as Stilton is linked to bad dreams if eaten too closely to bedtime, other types of cheese such as Cheshire can actually help your sleep without producing crazy dreams!

Other recommended cheeses to help your sleep quality are low-fat cottage cheese/Mozzarella and Ricotta.

The cheese contains tryptophan which has a similar effect to eggs and turkey..

Prior to your rush to get the cheeseboard out though, remember to watch your portion size. as cheese is unfortunately high in cholesterol and saturated fat.

If the small portion of cheese won’t fill you up on its own, you could always pair it with some grapes.

Categories
Music

“The Beach Boys” – My Mind Blowing Meeting With Brian Wilson

This article was written in 2002 after I was requested to document a trip I took to Los Angeles in September, 1999, to meet with the legendary leader of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson. What follows is all true – honest.
Steve Mayhew – February 2016.

hollywoodbl-2If somebody had said to me one day I’d find myself driving a convertible down Hollywood Boulevard beneath a clear blue Californian sky, palm trees waving lazily in the cool Pacific breeze and Brian Wilson singing ‘Imagination’ on the car stereo whilst on my way to meet the legend himself in his Beverly Hills home I’d say… yeah, why not? I mean it was almost 11 years to the day – back in 1988 – that my wife had tentatively suggested I consider taking her out to celebrate our wedding anniversary rather than attend the annual Beach Boys Stomp convention in Harrow. When I got to work on the following Monday I found out a certain Brian Wilson had dropped in to promote his solo album as a surprise guest – and I had missed it. I figured, therefore, that it was only right I finally got the opportunity to meet the great man himself and even more satisfying to know I’d get to meet him on his own home turf.

But first let’s rewind a little and set the scene.

brianwilsonBack in 1996 I suggested to a writing friend of mine that we write a musical play about Brian Wilson. After numerous rewrites and false starts with various producers and directors the property was optioned by a West End producer who, for legal reasons, cannot be named in this article. He spent two years of our life and over £40,000 of someone else’s money only to reveal he hadn’t managed to get the rights to the music of The Beach Boys from the publishing company as required. We were forced to abandon the original version of the play and rewrite it to make it more of a story on the group rather than centred entirely on Brian Wilson. After extensive rewriting and with the blessing of a group of new investors I found myself flying over to Los Angeles in September 1999 to discuss the details of the play with the great man himself.

I was accompanied by the manager of Status Quo, David Walker (now sadly deceased) and Neil Warnock, European agent for Brian Wilson (now a solo artist) and The Beach Boys. It was agreed we would take Brian through the play page by page and make notes of any changes he might suggest, the object of the exercise to ensure there was nothing contentious that might encourage matters of a litigious nature further on down the line.

I met my fellow travellers at the Four Season’s hotel from where we were transported up into the Hollywood Hills in a very large black automobile. After half an hour we arrived at the gates to a large housing estate surrounded by brick walls and a high tech security system with a breath-taking view overlooking Los Angeles below.

The car meandered down the hill and dropped us off outside an unassuming house in a cul de sac with children’s toys in the driveway. Brian Wilson’s wife, Melinda, warmly welcomed us into the house, my attention being immediately drawn to a large piano in the music den to the left (no sandbox though).
brianwilson-2The piano was covered in photographs of assorted Wilson family members and a lifetime achievement award from the American Music Society. Then without any warning there stood Brian Wilson in the flesh. I’d obviously never met him before but I knew it had to be him as it said ‘Brian Wilson’ on his t-shirt. And then suddenly it hit me with a force so intense my carefully prepared air of nonchalance disappeared in tatters. I’M IN BRIAN WILSON’S HOUSE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE AND NO ONE’S CALLED THE POLICE YET TO HAVE ME REMOVED! What the hell am I doing here?! I mean this is the man, the one and only, the guy who wrote (cliche number one coming up) the soundtrack to my life, genius composer of ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘California Girls’ and ‘Heroes And Villains’ and ‘Girl Don’t Tell Me’ (one of my particular favourites) and ‘Warmth Of The Sun’ and ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ and he’s holding his hand out to shake mine. Reality eventually settled in – this was after all a business meeting, not a hero worship session.

For a moment we all looked at each other trying to figure out who was going to do what when Melinda casually suggested that she drive everyone to the nearest deli and bring back some lunch so that STEVE AND BRIAN CAN SIT TOGETHER IN THE MUSIC DEN AND GO THROUGH THE PLAY IN PRIVACY WITHOUT ANY INTERRUPTIONS and I’m thinking this is starting to become very unreal again when David Walker volunteers to sit with us as well. This turns out to be a good thing otherwise I’m sure there was going to be a danger of me turning from wannabe writer into a quivering obsessive Beach Boys fan asking Brian what his favourite colour was.

Brian sat down in a large leather chair next to his piano while David and I perched on a couple of stools either side and then proceeded to go through the script. MrBrianWilsonNow as we all know the impression one has of Brian Wilson from numerous interviews and articles over the years is of a man confused and bewildered when it comes to dealing with the real world, a shell of his former self living on the edge of reality. As far as I’m concerned the man I met bore absolutely no resemblance to that image at all. He was concentrated, articulate, comfortable in our presence, interested in what we had to say about the play and genuinely happy to discuss his past. The first thing that hit me was his power of recall. One instance of this was when he put me right about a scene early on in the play when the young Beach Boys record ‘Surfin’, reminding me that it was he and not his younger brother, Dennis, who played drums on that first session.

Occasionally he would say things that surprised me especially when it came to the subject of his father, Murry, suggesting we beef up some of the language so that it was more like the real thing. Overall Brian’s contribution was positive and very encouraging. In fact throughout the hour or so we spent going over the play there was only one time when I felt something Brian said might not work but apart from that it was all very encouraging.

Inevitably when it comes to Brian Wilson some of the famous eccentricity of his character will eventually come to the surface. So it was that, after handing over a CD of some of the demos a very talented musician by the name of Sean MacReavy had recorded for us, David Walker and I found ourselves sitting on the edge of Brian’s unmade bed listening to the music while Brian rocked back and forth congratulating us on the quality of the music versus the original tracks. Then suddenly it was time to say goodbye and with a shake of hands, a request for a few autographs – I stupidly didn’t take any photographs – and wishes for all the best, Brian was out of the door to get his lunch. Before he left I gave him a copy of a Glen Miller CD I’d picked up with a recording of ‘Rhapsody In Blue’, a song I had read somewhere he used to play all the time as a child on his father’s record player.

Finding myself alone for a few moments I walked nervously over to Brian’s piano and quietly played the opening chords to ‘California Girls’, all the while waiting for a large disembodied voice from the heavens to tell me to stop taking liberties.

Both Brian and Melinda Wilson were very gracious in their opinion of the play and we went away full of hope that the project would now finally move ahead. Unfortunately, despite being given a verbal thumbs-up from all concerned it turned out that the publishing company Rondor had already assigned the music rights to another producer in New York. Apparently there is a move to put on a play that is not actually about The Beach Boys but that will use the music in much the same way as ‘Mamma Mia’ uses the music of Abba.

Two years on from the meeting with Brian Wilson I caught him and his band on stage at the Royal Festival Hall performing numerous Beach Boys hits and ‘Pet Sounds’ in its entirety. It took the concert to finally dispel the disappointment over the play not happening. As one music writer once said, the most important thing is the music. Everything else just fades into insignificance.

Categories
Music

10 Vinyl Albums You Should Never Take To The Charity Shop

Nerd student angry, biting a vinyl record
My son recently decided he wanted to ‘go vinyl’ for his birthday so I checked out the local charity shops to see what poor misguided soul might have given away from their record collection either out of ignorance or because the Grim Reaper had put paid to their disc spinning days. To my surprise I found copies of Tapestry by Carol King, Graceland by Paul Simon and Led Zeppelin 4 – I left Brothers in Arms for some other hapless fool – all for the princely sum of a £1 each ($1.40).

Admittedly they weren’t exactly in the best of condition – I’d never heard of the Carol King song ‘You’ve Got A You’ve Got A You’ve Got A’ (repeat ad nauseum) – but even so, you’d probably end up paying anywhere between at least £5 – £10 each for those kind of titles from a record specialist store so it was a win win situation for me – my son got his vinyl and it hadn’t broken the bank. It got me thinking though. What records of mine would I definitely not want to see being offloaded in any of the numerous charity shops that now haunt the dilapidated high streets of many town centres?

So, in chronological release order, here is a list of the 10 albums in my collection that will have to be prised from my cold dead hands before I see them given away.

elvispresley-2Elvis Presley – Rock and Roll
His first album, released back in 1956 in the UK on the HMV label, the album comprises Sun recordings such as Blue Suede Shoes, That’s All Right, Mystery Train and Shake, Rattle and Roll. The sleeve notes by a certain Bob Dawbarn are eccentric to say the least. Described variously as a ‘jazz phenomenon’ – ?????? – ‘a second Marlon Brando’ with influences from Johnny Ray to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, it’s obvious he was difficult to pigeon-hole in those early days of rock and roll.

A great album which I bought from a young lady back in the 70s for a couple of quid ($2.80). A bargain at half the price. Original release copy listed on Ebay for about £100 – depending upon condition.

Ronettes-2The Ronettes – Presenting the Fabulous…
Another bargain I got from a disk jockey at a local disco in Margate – again back in the 1970s – for a fiver. What a great track listing – Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, Walking in the Rain, The Best Part of Breaking Up – all bona-fide Phil Spector wall of sound classics.

And let’s not forget the vision that was Veronica Bennett – or Roni Spector as she is best known. Keith Richards had an affair with the lovely Roni while she was still with Phil ‘Now Where Did I Leave That Gun?’ Spector. Judging by the size of that hairdo of hers I reckon she was keeping Keef’s stash safe for him. Original release copy listed on Ebay for between £10 – £15. The fools. They don’t know what they’ve got.

The_Who-2The Who – My Generation
To be honest this isn’t one of my albums – it’s from my wife’s collection but somehow or other it’s ended up on my side of the room. She can have my Barry Manilow Greatest Hits in exchange.

The debut album from one of the most exciting UK groups to challenge the supremacy of The Beatles back in the 60s – you’ve got the title track as well as The Kids’ Are Alright, A Legal Matter and La-La-La-Lies.

I managed to catch them in their glory at Charlton Football club in 1976 just before Keith Moon joined the 32 club – it’s like the 27 club but you get extra years for really bad behavior – and I think my hearing is now almost back to normal. Original release copies available on Ebay for between £300 – £500. I just hope my wife never gets to read this.

Smokey-Robinson-Going-To-A-Go-GoSmokey Robinson and the Miracles – Going to a Go-Go
If memory serves me correctly I bought this from a friend who was culling his record collection just before The Miracles had a hit in the charts with Tracks of My Tears – which happens to be one of the songs on this album along with Ooo Baby Baby and the title track.

It’s one of the very albums I can honestly say where every track – apart Going to a Go-Go – is very good. I seem to remember Elvis Costello covering one of the songs – From Head to Toes – from this album. On Ebay for about £25. Get it while stocks last. Classic Motown at its very best.

pet-sounds-4The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
So much has been written about this seminal 60s album that I won’t go over old ground – voted best album ever by Mojo, influencing The Beatles and their own seminal album Sgt. Peppers etc etc.

The music still stands up after all these years – God Only Knows, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Caroline No, Here Today, Sloop John B and others, timeless classics all. However, it is very difficult to get hold of an original copy from 1966 as it actually didn’t sell that many copies back in the day. A truly original release in good condition is therefore worth a few bob.

My copy is also worth a bit. Although it’s a re-release from the 90s I managed to get both Brian Wilson and Tony Asher – the lyricist for eight of the songs on the album – to sign it for me. There’s a signed Brian Wilson copy up on Ebay priced at over £300. Definitely not one for the charity shop, at any price.

Sgt_Pepper-2Sgt.Pepper / The White Album
I couldn’t decide what Beatles album to choose for this article. Musically you could argue that there’s a brilliant single LP struggling to extricate itself from the double White Album – try sequencing Back in the USSR, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Dear Prudence, Birthday, Revolution 1, I Will, Helter Skelter, I’m So Tired, Blackbird, Happiness is a Warm Gun and Don’t Pass Me By if you don’t believe me – so I plumped for Sgt. Pepper first on the basis of it being the better of the two but the strange thing is there doesn’t seem to be much call even for original copies released in 1967.

There’s a first press version available on Ebay for £90 but standard original copies seem to go for around £50 to £60 at the most. The White Album however appears to be the more desirable of the two. This may have something to do with the fact that each original copy was numbered on the front so I guess the earlier the number the more it’s worth. The White Album – original copies – retail for anywhere between 150 to four hundred on Ebay.

Sticky_Fingers-2The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
I think this was the very first Stones album I ever bought. The whole Andy Warhol cover art concept intrigued me I guess. It also intrigued the landlady of the flat I was staying in at Catford during my college days. She screamed the hallway down when I showed her the album then pulled the zipper down on the front cover.

I’m assuming she was thinking Jagger’s todger was part of the deal but alas for her Mick had obviously decided to keep it hidden that day. The 70s, for me anyway, saw the Stones at their best with Brown Sugar kicking off an album featuring other classics such as Dead Flowers, Wild Horses and Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.

And after all that we then got Exile On Main Street. If you’ve got an original copy in good condition you should be able to get around £50 to a £100 for it on Ebay.

Led_Zep_4-2Led Zeppelin 4
I always seemed to be missing the bus back in the 70s when it came to buying popular albums. Everyone bought Deep Purple in Rock – I got Fireball. Dark Side of the Moon resided in practically every hippy household back then – I bought Wish You Were Here.

Finally though, with Led Zeppelin I think I got it right. Admittedly everyone got Led Zep 2 and I bought 3 – I liked the pretty colours and the rotating disk on the front – but I then swapped the Best of the Beach Boys Volume 1 for Led Zeppelin 4 and my musical taste realigned itself. The guy even threw in a 45 of Whole Lotta Love – more on singles in a later article. T

his record is worth the price of admission just for Rock and Roll alone – but what a bonus with Stairway To Heaven and Black Dog on it as well. If you check on Ebay there seems to be a premium payable for original copies of the album that have a plum colored label so we’re talking £100 to £200 if it’s in good nick.

timefadesawayNeil Young – Time Fades Away
This is going to hurt but I have to say I once had this album and I stupidly let a friend from work borrow it. Months later he dutifully returned the cover and the lyric sheet but the important bit – the black vinyl thing that came with it – was missing, probably ending up as an ashtray for the numerous joints liberally shared with his compatriots.

The thing is that this is the only Neil Young album that Neil Young himself didn’t want re-released on CD because it was so awful – a collection of songs recorded live during a number of coke and marijuana fuelled tours he embarked upon between 1971 to 1973. It therefore has a certain rarity value – I won’t list any of the songs because I can’t remember one that I vaguely liked – but if you check it out you’ll see original copies of the album listed for anywhere between £50 to £200 on Ebay. So, Steve Field, if you’re still out there, I want my album back.

Derek_and_Clive-2Peter Cook and Dudley Moore – Derek and Clive
This album doesn’t fetch much on Ebay, £18 at the most if you’re lucky. The reason I’m including it is because it brings out a sentimental streak in me for the old days when you used to lend your records out to friends – Steve Field excepted – then meet up and sing along to such classics as The Worst Job I Ever Had, In the Lav, Winkie Wanky Woo and that evergreen perennial, Jump.

I haven’t heard this album for many a year but I’m pretty sure I could still quote most of it verbatim. I remember reading an interview with Cook and Moore in Time Out when the album was first released. Peter Cook defended the use of all the bad language scattered across every track, saying that by constantly repeating such filth it would eventually desensitize the listener and at the same time push back the boundaries of comedy. Dudley Moore said he didn’t know about any of that bollocks – he just hoped his mum didn’t get to hear it.

Finally, just as a word of caution, if you ever decide to bequeath any of your record collection to your offspring, check on Ebay first that you’re not giving too much away. My son loves the Back to the Future movies so I gave him my vinyl soundtrack to the first film. My daughter scanned the barcode on the back of the sleeve and it turns out it’s on Ebay for 150 pounds. I really should start reading my own articles from now on.

Do you have any expensive vinyl albums lying around or maybe ones that you would just never give away or sell for any price? Let us know or comment below.

Categories
Music

8 Albums You’ll Wish You Had Bought – Or Perhaps You Did

screaming naked redhead with vinyl records over white
There is no doubt hundreds of albums that could be described as classics. This list is a guide to albums that have originally been released on vinyl during the period of the 70’s to the 90’s. The range of music is diverse from rock to ska, but they all share a similarity in that none of them have a ‘manufactured’ sound, they all contain ‘real’ lyrics and ‘real’ instruments!

They would be a respectable part of a record collection and if you already own them, they definitely deserve a dusting and should bring back some nostalgic memories:

lawoman-21 L A Woman – The Doors

Lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison tragically passed away just three months after the release of the iconic ‘L A Woman’ album.

As well as the title track, it contains hits including ‘Love Her Madly’ and ‘Riders on the Storm’. Despite Jim not being at his vocal peak, the album has a very raw quality and the style is a combination of blues and The Doors’ inimitable mystical rock sound. If you like raw music with proper musical instruments, ‘L A Woman’ deserves a place in your collection!

killer-22 Killer – Alice Cooper

Although he is largely recognised for the hits ‘School’s Out’ and ‘Poison’, shock-rocker Alice Cooper has released an impressive 26 albums – and that’s just the studio ones!

It is hard to pick out one from so many, but a recommendation is ‘Killer’. It is said to have inspired musicians such as John Lydon of Sex Pistols fame, and shows there is more depth to Alice that his amazing live showmanship.

Although the album (released back in ‘71 by The Alice Cooper Band) only contains 8 tracks, each one deserves a listen; particularly ‘Halo of Flies’ which is more progressive rock in style, and ‘Desperado’, which is rumoured to have been written as a tribute to Alice’s former drinking partner, fellow rocker Jim Morrison.

madness-23 Divine Madness – Madness

Okay, so it is technically a compilation album, but nothing brings back memories of the early 80’s than a bit of ska by nutty boys Madness. ‘Divine Madness’ is aptly titled and features songs more memorable than Suggs’ pink suit and the ‘flying’ saxophonist in the ‘Baggy Trousers’ video! (Lee Thompson).

An impressive 22 tracks are on this album including ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘My Girl’, ‘House of Fun’, ‘Wings of a Dove’ and ‘Night Boat to Cairo’.

duran-24 Seven and the Ragged Tiger – Duran Duran

Duran Duran have released 14 albums and are still going strong today. The title of the ‘Seven and the Ragged Tiger’ album is actually a reference to ambition. The seven refers to the five members of the band and their two managers; the ragged tiger is a metaphor for chasing success – so now you know! ‘Seven and the Ragged Tiger’ is the band’s second album and contains hits ‘The Reflex’, ‘The Union of the Snake’ and the much underrated and underplayed ‘New Moon on Monday’.

nirvana-15 Nevermind – Nirvana

Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ is undoubtedly an iconic, groundbreaking album which truly paved the way for the grunge scene. It has sold over 24 million copies globally and is very deep both musically and lyrically.

It contains many hits including ‘Come as you Are’. ‘Lithium’ and the unforgettable ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.

spiders-26 Spiders – Space

There are many groups that have contributed to defining the 90’s, Oasis and Blur for example, but one band that tend to be overshadowed and deserve more recognition are Space.

Their first album ‘Spiders’ contains many hits such as ‘Neighbourhood’ and ‘Female of the Species’ (which has since been used in soundtracks including ‘Cold Feet’ and ‘Austin Powers – International Man of Mystery’.)

The album is unique musically, witty lyrically and even contains vocal samples of Jack Nicholson and an Ed Sullivan impersonator to add to the mood of the songs! Well worth an investment!

pulp-27 Different Class – Pulp

Similarly to Space, Pulp also had a knack of combining clever, witty lyrics on slightly taboo subjects with their own style of music. A lot of the songs on ‘Different Class’ tell stories and the hits include ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 2000’.

The album is based around the theme of the British social class system, is saucy in places and contains the controversial ‘Sorted for E’s and Wizz’ – which is infact a very clever anti-drug song!

alanis-48 Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

Alternative rocker Alanis Morissette has sold 33 million copies of the Jagged Little Pill album, which can’t be bad! The album has also received an impressive 5 Grammy awards.

It is clear from some of the songs including ‘You Oughta Know’ that Alanis intelligently draws on some of her own personal experiences in the songs, sometimes showing raw passion and sometimes her softer side (in ‘Head over Feet’ for example). The album also contains the hits ‘Ironic’ and ‘Hand in my Pocket’. Author: Karen Hill

Categories
Entertainment

Movies That Should Never Had Been Remade

sign-2So many classic films from the last few decades are being turned into mini-series’ or are being remade at the moment. It can be hard to keep up!

Should they mess with the classics? This article compares 8 classics with their remakes, the majority of which do actually compare favourably with their originals, but in a different way; – there is always that odd time though when a remake doesn’t work, making it totally unnecessary:

brightonrock-21 Brighton Rock 1947 v 2010

‘Brighton Rock’ tells the story of mob-leader Pinkie Brown who thinks he has got away with murder – until he discovers amateur sleuth Ida is ‘onto’ him.

He will stop at nothing to protect his secret and even marries a naive waitress (Rose) who accidentally has evidence.

The 1947 version is a brilliant classic, especially as Richard Attenborough’s performance as Pinkie Brown is spinechilingly accurate.

The 2010 version has modern twists though, including ‘Mods v Rockers’ and is worth seeing in its own right. You can’t beat Richard Attenborough as Pinkie though, no one will ever come close.

littleshop-22 Little Shop of Horrors 1960 v 1986

Despite starring the legend that is Jack Nicholson, as Wilbur Force, the 1960 version of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ doesn’t quite live up to the standard of the remake.

It is impressive in the aspect that it was made on a low budget over a two day period, but the musical version starring Rick Moranis as nerdy florist Seymour and Steve Martin as a dark haired dastardly dentist puts it to shame somewhat. Not to mention the hilarious scenes featuring the raunchy, vicious plant!

gullivers-travels-23 Gulliver’s Travels 1977 v 2010

The Richard Harris version is perfectly charming, with Richard in the title role of Gulliver, but it centres for the majority of the film as him as a giant in Lilliput.

It is only the last few minutes that show the situation of Gulliver then living amongst giants, which is a bit disappointing.

Jack Black’s 2010 version, however, is clever in the sense that a classic tale has been brought up to date and is very funny in places, with special effects.

willy-wonka-24 Willy Wonka/Charlie and The Chocolate Factory 1971 v 2005

You would think such a classic film like ‘Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory’ which follows Charlie’s adventures with Grandpa Jo, should be left well alone, as it is so iconic in its own right.

Having said that though, Johnny Depp brings his own take on Willy Wonka and also gives an equally creepy performance to match Gene Wilder in the original.

Although the 1971 version will always be the classic, the 2005 version is surprisingly good in its own right. It is actually more true to the book that the first film (which author Roald Dahl amazingly didn’t approve of!)

spiderman5 Spider-Man 1977 v 2002

The 1977 version of ‘Spider-Man’ brings back great memories for fans who went on to watch Nicholas Hammond as Spidey/Peter Parker in the series that followed. Nicholas Hammond made Spidey very fun and watchable at the time.

However, the version with Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker who gets bitten by a spider to gain super-hero powers is fantastic and he gives a new dimension to the character. The budget was obviously a lot bigger and this is apparent in the special effects. The remake was also rebooted recently with Andrew Garfield as Spidey (another decent version) and yet another reboot is due out in 2017!

Total-Recall-26 Total Recall 1990 v 2012

The 1990 version of ‘Total Recall’ had a vast budget and a great cast. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid and Sharon Stone as his wife, Lori.

There are many interesting twists and turns in Quaids virtual trip to Mars fantasy, and Arnie makes the film his own. The 2012 version though, with Colin Farrell as Quaid, just isn’t the same. Whilst being entertaining in its own way, the film is literally way too dark and lacks the humour and quirkiness of the ‘90 version. This one should have been left alone!

junglebook-37 The Jungle Book 1967 v 1994

The 1967 animated version of ‘The Jungle Book’ is a classic family tale about Mowgli (voiced by Bruce Reitherman) and his adventures in the Jungle. It has a memorable soundtrack including ‘The Bare Necessities’).

The 1994 film version which stars Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli is very different and not really recommended for children. It is more loosely based on the Rudyard Kipling story, nevertheless it is very touching and exciting.

karatekid-28 The Karate Kid 1984 v 2010

The 1984 version of The Karate Kid shows Ralph Macchio as the original ‘Daniel Son’ who learns Karate initially to be able to stand up to bullies, from his now infamous mentor Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita).

Whilst no film could ever quite live up to the spirit of the original, the 2010 version is a watchable reboot in its own right with great performances from Jaden Smith as Dre and Jackie Chan as Mr Han.

There is plenty of action, and some breathtaking scenes of China to admire, but it somehow lacks the heart of the original.
Author: Karen Hill

Categories
Entertainment

8 Musicians Who Have Aged Gracefully

keith-richards-2The years are not always kind to celebrity musicians, especially when they can get swept up in the rock’n’roll lifestyle that can follow alongside the fame.

There are some though, that have either always been more prudent or have grown wiser as they matured in years; or have just been plain lucky and have managed to age very well!

Musicians in those categories don’t appear to be much older than 30, yet are at least in their late 40’s.

Here’s a look at musicians who have aged very gracefully, with a look at their ‘secrets’ which can range from surfing to discovering a new faith!

sting-21 – Sting

Maybe it’s his macrobiotic diet (balancing the yin and yang of food) or the fact that he has performed aerobics, ran races and still practises yoga with meditation techniques that make the ex-’Police’ frontman appear so youthful.

It is hard to believe that Sting is 64 years old. He has also cited music as giving him spiritual solace so perhaps that’s his secret!

anthony-kiedis-22 – Anthony Kiedis

The Red Hot Chili’s frontman looks virtually the same as he did back in the 80’s, but amazingly he is now 53! Although you may presume from his body that he purely works out at the gym, he recently fell in love with surfing as he approached 50 and has vowed to surf until his dying day! He is vegetarian and starts his day with water and green tea.

Not an image you would automatically conjure up for him if you remember him for his wearing nothing but a strategically-placed-sock days!

davidvanian-23 – Dave Vanian

The lead singer of punk band ‘The Damned’ likes to keep his personal life out of the press, but his image is definitely influenced by Dracula and the Gothic scene.

Although he no longer sports his famous long hair with the streak, from his ‘Eloise’ days, he still has a very youthful fresh face for a man approaching 60. Maybe his enthusiasm of vampire knowledge has led him to discover the secret of eternal youth.

rodstewart-24 – Rod Stewart

Rod ‘The Mod’ Stewart has always taken pride in his appearance and has introduced a lot of image changes in his pop career (additionally to THOSE unforgettable leopard skin print trousers!).

Although he enjoys a tipple of fine wine, Rod has never really been into taking drugs.

He is very interested in football (a notorious Celtic fan) and played it well into his 60’s. He had to give up playing football recently due to having several knee operations.

He has had the luxury of a full-time trainer for over fifteen years though, and a home gym which he still hits for an impressive ninety minutes every day, despite being 71 years old.

shaniatwain-25 – Shania Twain

Country singer Shania Twain still wows fans with her youthful looks and stunning figure. Her secret seems to be a carb-free vegetarian diet.

She also keeps in shape with yoga, pilates, walking, dancing and horse-riding.

According to a study led by the University of Toronto and the University of California, Shania has the perfect face. She certainly looks fabulous at 50.

bono-26 – Bono

U2 singer Bono seems to age like a fine wine and has matured very gracefully at the age of 55. He keeps in shape by exercise boxing and cycling (although he recently confessed to overindulging in these, leading to two very unfortunate injuries.)

It may be presumed that Bono wears sunglasses to look younger or ‘cool’, but he recently revealed that the shades are there for a medical reason as he suffers from glaucoma. They are not actually the fashion statement that many fans believed they were for years!

Prince presents the award for album of the year at the 57th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

7 – Prince

55 year old Prince recently proved he still has an amazing amount of energy by putting on a nearly four hour long show containing over fifty songs. He wowed the audience at the intimate Hollywood Palladium gig with age-defying moves that included back-bends!

He is a tee-total vegan who is convinced that his faith has changed his life. Back in 2001 he converted to Jehovah’s Witness. He has cut his controversial songs and swearing from his shows and is now monogamous.

kylie-28 – Kylie Minogue

Although 47 year old Kylie Minogue is very slim, she actually enjoys six small meals a day. She follows low GI diet plans, (GI stands for Glycaemic Index, the plan ranks carbs according to their effect on blood sugar and is said to be helpful at reducing hunger between meals) and her favourite method of working out is pilates.

She also seems to have ‘stepped back in time’ with her hairstyle recently, as she has gone back to her blonde 80’s curls from her ‘Neighbours’ days. Many of her fans have complimented her about not changing at all since those days!
Author: Karen Hill

Categories
Exercise & Fitness

13 Home Fitness Machine Ideas

men enjoying his meal while watching tvSo you think you’re other half could do with a bit of toning, maybe a bit of muscle development. Perhaps put on a few pounds of muscle or take off even more of fat.

If so check out these 13 fitness home workout pieces of equipment that will create a monster. They include some that are discrete and inexpensive to others that are flash and full on saying you mean business.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (Pair)

Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds; adjusts in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25 pounds.
Lets you rapidly switch from one exercise to the next.
Combines 15 sets of weights into one, using a unique dial system.
Eliminates the need for multiple dumbbells cluttering your workout space.
Two year warranty on weight plates and parts.

“I used these without the stand, if you do as well make sure you lift with your legs and not your back. If you have a bad back, or just want to be safe, you may want to go with the stand. (Though theres nothing wrong with a little extra leg work with the proper form 😉 ) In summary, if you’re doing P90X, or any other home workout routine that requires you to switch weights quickly, this is the dumbell for you.”

Bosu Balance Trainer by Bosu

BOSU Balance Trainer combines all the elements of fitness cardiovascular toning and flexibility into unique and highly effective combinations.
Challenging and fun, the BOSU Balance Trainer gives a whole new meaning to “moving with control” as you work out on an unstable, dynamic surface.
Includes BOSU Balance Trainer, 4-in-1 workout DVD, 2 workouts from the Xplode Series DVD, owner’s manual and foot pump.

“It’s a great aide if you do some at-home exercising. I recently had a private trainer start me on a weight training program but for days I don’t go to the gym, I use my Bosu and I love it!”

Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro

KINETIC ENGINE Carbon Steel Spring turbo-charges abdominal and arm workouts
ULTRA-WIDE WHEEL Stabilizes movement to carve left, right and center
PERFORMANCE GRIPS Rubberized, non-slip ergonomic grips for stability control
FOAM KNEEPAD High-density foam for superior comfort

The Perfect Ab-Carver Pro will carve your core and help you get ripped abs and sculpted arms. The kinetic “engine” uses a carbon steel spring to turbocharge your abdominal and arm workouts. It provides resistance as you roll out and assistance when you roll back. The ultra-wide tread provides maximum stability when carving left, right, and center. Ergonomic hand grips are angled to help activate arm and core muscles. Download the digital workout to get a 21-day plan to a stronger core and sculpted arms. The workout is designed for all fitness levels, from beginner to advanced.

Powerline BSG10X Home Gym, Short Assembly, 160-Pound Weight Stack

The Powerline BSG10X home gym was designed to provide challenging, muscle-building workouts in a limited amount of space. For maximum convenience right out of the box, the gym ships 90% assembled and is ready to use after installing nine simple bolts–for most users, the process takes as little as 30 minutes. Plus, a compact frame that’s less than four feet wide and 6.5 feet tall allows you to use the gym almost anywhere.

But assembly and space-saving convenience aren’t all the unit has to offer. Although compact, it’s a sturdy, full-body-challenging workout station. A stable platform and multiple seat adjustments accommodate fitness enthusiasts of all shapes and sizes, while the 160-pound adjustable weight stack; high, mid, and low pulleys; eight-position, adjustable press arm; and leg developer station all add up to more than 40 exercises.
homegym

Powerline BSG10X Home Gym, Short Assembly, 160-Pound Weight Stack

SPRI Deluxe Vinyl Kettlebells

Combines function and fun for exciting and efficient workouts
Develops muscular strength, power and endurance while burning calories
Wide authentic kettlebell handles for comfort grip
Encased in a durable vinyl coating to help prevent floor damage
Color-coded by weight

Use for squats, throws, cleans, jerks, snatches and rotational swings. The SPRI Kettlebells have handles designed for comfort and fully vinyl coated iron bells to help protect floors. Ideal tool for both personal and group training. Available in 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50lbs.

Weider Power Tower

Pull-Up Station: Padded hand grips, Add definition to your biceps and forearms
Push-Up Station: Padded hand grips, Work your biceps, shoulders and core
Dip Station: Padded hand grips, Build your triceps, chest and shoulders
Vertical Knee Raise (VKR) Station: Cushioned arm rests, Padded hand grips, Isolate your core to develop lean, sculpted abs
Sewn Vinyl Cushions: Comfortable material, Durable, built to last

Let the versatility and engineering of the Weider Power Tower smooth out your exercise program. The independent utility bench and uprights accommodate Olympic bars for your total strength-training commitment. Build strength in your quads, hip flexors, and hamstrings with the six-roll leg developer. The curl yoke helps develop the muscles in your upper body. And the safety spotters help you stay safe while working out.

The Finger Master Hand Exerciser Comes With FREE Instructional Videos

Revolutionary 5 finger pistons with key lock feature to ensure all hand sizes are catered for.
Adjustable tension (3 to 8.5 lbs of tension) means you don’t need to buy devices as your grip strength improves .
Fits in your pocket so you can use it anytime and anywhere (e.g. in the office, on the bus)
Soft malleable rubber for supreme comfort and quality copper core (not cheap steel) for maximum durability.

– Guitarists & Pianists: Want more dexterity in your fingers to play longer without getting sore?
– Arthritis to Carpal Tunnel Rehabilitation: Need to exercise your hand or ease the pain?
– Rock climbers: Need extra strength and endurance in your hands to finish a climb?

Ab Wheel Roller

Do You Want To Take A Look At The Advantages of Six Pack Abs.

Here’s the Least Expensive, Most Potent Way to Get Your Body Pulsating with Strength, Endurance and Life Long Vitality…..At Home!

Benefits:

* Improved Posture
* Increased Basal Metabolic Rate
* Better Sporting Performance
* Looking Good
* Lower Risk of Back Injury
* Reduced Risk To Disease
* Rapidly dissipates lactic acid build up
* Increased Sports Efficiency and Reduced Risk of Injury

The Elite Ab Wheel:

* Is made of high quality material
* Has dual wheels for stability
* Quickly gives a whole body workout
* Convenient in size

Power Press Push Up – Complete Push Up Training System

Revolutionary color-coded push up board targets specifics muscles worked (chest, shoulders, back, and triceps)
Heavy duty “Plug & Press” push up board system with multiple positions and angles that sculpt and maximize upper body definition
Free Tone and Burn Workout DVD focuses on total body strength and conditioning, designed for all fitness levels
Portable, Simple Assembly and Storage
Premium, Cushioned, Non-slip Hand Grips

Power Press Push Up is an innovative color-coded pushup board training system that strengthens and sculpts your entire upper body (chest, shoulders, back, and arms), while engaging your total core.

Ultimate Body Press Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar

Includes pull up bar, parallel grips, mounting hardware and installation instructions
Padded foam grips
Heavy-duty steel construction
Gym quality pull up bar designed for easy home installation
Gun-metal gray powder coated finish

The Wall Mounted Pull Up Bar from Ultimate Body Press is the highest quality and most affordable wall mounted pull up bar available today. This is a gym quality wall mounted pull up bar that is designed for easy home installation.

The heavy duty reinforced support beams and the parallel grips extend out 20 inches from the wall giving plenty of room for your pull ups. This pull up bar is made of heavy gauge steel with foam padded grips for more comfort and less irritation on your hands. The grips of the pull up bar are positioned at 10, 24 and 36 inches apart. The parallel grips that are spaced at 16 inches on center. The parallel grips are also padded and work great for neutral grip pull ups and knee raise exercises. 

Gold’s Gym XRS 20 Olympic Bench

6-Roll Leg Developer -Build and develop your quads, hamstrings, glutes and hip-flexors with this 6-roll leg developer.
Rolled Preacher Pad – Isolate your biceps and forearms, while ensuring proper exercise form with this preacher pad that’s been rolled at the top for increased comfort.
Adjustable Safety Spotters – Get a safe, effective workout with these 9.5″ spotters that support you during bench press and squat-type workouts.
600 Lb. Weight Capacity – With a 300 lb. user capacity and a 300 lb. weight-set limit, this club-quality design won’t let you down.
Detachable Curl Yoke – Attach this curl yoke to develop a stronger, more defined upper body and then quickly remove it when you’re ready to switch gears and work out on the leg developer station.

WOSS AttacK Trainer – Best PRO Trainer System with Rubber Grips

WOSS Professional grade System – Made in the USA, using 1st Grade US Military Webbing.

This Trainer comes with Rubber Sleeve Grips usually only found on $200+ Trainers – Ours come with extra strong cores.
All WOSS Trainers are strong enough for anyone working out with them!! This system takes PRO Trainers to a new level – for an unbelievable low price – by the Best Trainer makers – WOSS!
The Center Strap goes through our WOSS D-Ring which makes this Trainer more instable than other systems out there. This will give you the results you are looking for in no time at all!
The black Military Anchor Strap with built-in Door Anchor is perfect for tree trunks, branches, rafters, open beams, even a door. Take it to your local Gym and anchor it to their bar – fast and easy. Each handle is made with 3/8″ black cord, 1-3/8″ Rubber Sleeve Handle and with a 1-1/2″ wide soft foot loop for easy and comfortable support.
Made in the USA.

Ader Fitness Arm Blaster

Constructed with thick gauge aluminum.
Padded elbows for comfort, support, and stability.
Contoured design to isolate arms and shoulders while keeping the back and elbows locked in curling position.
Adjustable belt made of webbed nylon.
Thick, neoprene neck pad for added comfort.

It’s an ingenious device which prevents the elbows from moving backwards and takes the lats out of the equation- which in turn forces just your biceps to do all the work. The device is simple to use and as soon as you try it, you’ll immediately feel the difference.

Categories
Health & Wealth

Time To Go It Alone? – Become A Solopreneur? 7 Reasons Why Now Is The Right Time

Ever thought about going it alone in the world of employment and getting out of the rush to work? Wonder how hard it can be to be self-employed?

Once it was only the preserve of the adventurous or the foolhardy or those with water-tight backing to become a freelance, independent worker.

It appears that NOW is a good a time as any to become a freelancer, an entrepreneur or in today’s vocabulary a “solopreneur”…

According to the Urban Dictionary a solopreneur is “An entrepreneur who works alone, “solo,” running their business single-handedly. They might have contractors for hire, yet have full responsibility for the running of their business.”

The 4th annual 2014 MBO Partners State of Independence in America workforce study reports a growing headcount of 17.9 million “solopreneur” independent workers – or those who regularly work 15 hours or more per week as independents, with most working more than 35 hours per week. This is up 1.2% from 2013 and 12.5% from the base year of 2011. This growth, which is more than 11 times higher than the 1.1% growth in the overall U.S. labor force during this 4-year period, demonstrates the continued, structural shift toward independent work.”
Phomebusinessb-2

Yes working from home doing freelance work has been a reality for 18 million Americans to date and the forecast is 40 million by 2020.
Discover the trends occurring today that are going to be beneficial for those seeking to work for themselves at home.
thin-gray-next-button-th

Categories
Health & Wealth

9 Air-Cleaning Houseplants That Are Almost Impossible to Kill

carniverous

Author: Maria Janowiak
What might your office or apartment have in common with a NASA spaceship? Unfortunately the answer may be poor air quality. Indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health: Stagnant indoor environments allow pollutants to build up and stick around in greater amounts than we humans should be breathing in. Living and working in places rife with air contaminants and lacking decent ventilation can cause “sick building syndrome,” which can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and eye, ear, and nose irritation. Lucky for us, NASA scientists have been working to understand this problem and find solutions. Their space-age solution was an easy one that anyone can use: Use houseplants to clean the air.

Star-Trek

What’s the Deal?

Given that people spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, air quality matters [2]. Furnishings, upholstery, synthetic building materials, and cleaning products in homes and offices can emit a variety of toxic compounds, like formaldehyde. Indoor air pollution can also be caused by pollen, bacteria, and molds, as outdoor air contaminants like car exhaust finds its way into buildings. All of these are made worse in small or poorly-ventilated spaces (like maybe your apartment with that window that you accidentally painted shut last year).

The good news is that there’s an easy and affordable way to combat the presence of the yucky stuff we may be breathing in, and it comes right from the natural world. Plants purify air, making them part of what NASA calls “nature’s life support system.” Adding potted plants to a room has been shown to reduce the amount of air particulates (although plants in bloom may be contributing their own compounds to the air) [3][4].

So, how do houseplants clean the air? Plants absorb some of the particulates from the air at the same time that they take in carbon dioxide, which is then processed into oxygen through photosynthesis. But that’s not all—microorganisms associated with the plants are present in the potting soil, and these microbes are also responsible for much of the cleaning effect [4].

Beyond air quality, plants just make people feel better. For example, hospital patients with plants in their rooms were more positive and had lower blood pressure and stress levels [6]. Similarly, indoor plants may make people smarter by allowing them to stay alert and reducing mental fatigue [7].

Your Action Plan

Although houseplants may be intimidating to those with a “black thumb” or fear of commitment, it turns out that many plants are easy to care for—so easy, in fact, you’d have to try pretty hard to kill them. Below, we’ve pulled together a list of nine virtually-indestructible plants inspired by NASA’s research.

Each kind of plant has its own favorite environmental conditions, so look for a tag that comes with the plant or online to find out how much sunlight and water it will need. If your plant doesn’t come in a pretty pot, or if it outgrew its previous one, you can easily repot it. Just find a pot that’s at least onw inch larger than the previous container, add potting soil to the bottom, and place the plant so that the top of the soil remains at the same level as before. Finally, carefully pack potting soil around the edges of the plant and water it. Voilà!

1. Garden Mum

GardenMum

In the NASA research, this plant was an air-purifying champion, removing ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from indoor air. Popular and inexpensive at garden stores, they can be planted outside after they’re finished blooming.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene

2. Spider Plant

SpiderPlant

Spider plants are among the easiest houseplants to grow, making them a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners. A fan of bright, indirect sunlight, spider plants will send out shoots with flowers that eventually grow into baby spider plants or spiderettes.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene

3. Dracaena

Dracaena_0

There are more than 40 different kinds of Dracaena plants, making it easy to find one that’s a perfect fit for your home or office. They’re common foliage plants with long, wide leaves that are often variegated with lines of white, cream, or red. Pet owners might want to select a different plant, however, as these are toxic to cats and dogs.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene

4. Ficus/Weeping Fig

Fig_1

Though the ficus is a tree in its native home of southeast Asia, when it grows indoors, it’s a hardy plant that ends up being between two and 10 feet tall. So why not get figgy with it? Grow this low-maintenance houseplant in bright, indirect light and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Although this plant has some serious air-cleaning abilities, it can also be taken outside in late spring and brought back indoors when temperatures are warm and well above freezing.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene

5. Peace Lily

PeaceLilly_0

Peace lily plants are relatively small compared to many of the plants on this list, but they still pack some major air-cleaning abilities. Easy to grow, these plants will flower for much of the summer. Just be aware that those flowers (like all flowers) do contribute some pollen and floral scents to the air, so you may want to avoid having a room full of them. Put peace lilies in a shady spot and keep the soil moist without overwatering.

Pollutants removed: ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene

6. Boston Fern

BostonFern_0

These plants prefer to clean the air from a cool location with high humidity and indirect light. They’re relatively easy to grow, but they do need to stay moist. Check the Boston Fern’s soil daily to see if it needs water, and give it a good soak once per month.

Pollutants removed: formaldehyde and xylene

7. Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

SnakePlant_3

This is one of the hardest houseplants to kill. Although it does need to be watered occasionally, it generally prefers drier conditions and some sun.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene

8. Bamboo Palm

BambooPalm_0

A superstar of filtering formaldehyde, these palms thrive in full sun or bright light. Part of the reason they can filter so much air is that they can grow to be pretty big—as tall as four to 12 feet high, making them exciting (and pet-friendly) indoor additions.

Pollutants removed: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene

9. Aloe Vera

AloeVera_0

In addition to being easy to care for, aloe makes some serious health claims. The plant’s leaves contain a clear liquid full of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and other compounds that have wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, and there is some evidence that aloe may help (and is unlikely to hurt) skin conditions like psoriasis [8].

Pollutant removed: formaldehyde

Author: Maria Janowiak